They may look a little bit daunting (and, in some cases, a bit creepy), but elevation masks are fast becoming an essential training aid for boxers, MMA fighters and anyone who wants to push their body (and mind) to the absolute limit while preparing for combat.
What is an elevation mask?
The basic principle of an elevation training mask is that it increases stamina and endurance by replicating the conditions that can be found at high altitudes. Worn over the face to cover the nose and mouth, the mask restricts the amount of oxygen you receive and therefore alters your breathing experience. It may look a little over-the-top in a typical gym environment, but it serves a very important purpose for fighters who are exploring ways to perform exceptionally in the ring.
Why do you need one?
The claims from various mask manufacturers is this: when you regularly use an elevation mask during training, your respiratory muscles will need to work harder, which means that over time your lung capacity will increase. Your cardiovascular fitness will improve, your body will have learned how to process oxygen more efficiently, and you’ll have clearer mental focus even when you’re not actually wearing the mask.
Some scientific studies propose that elevated cardio conditioning can also speed up your recovery time, leading to a more efficient fight that will allegedly give you an edge over your competition.
As with any product of this kind, there are always claims that it may not be as effective as we would all like to believe. However, the sheer number of success stories that have emerged from fighters who have taken the plunge and invested in an elevation mask may be enough to convince you to give this innovative training aid a chance.
Which mask should you buy?
There are plenty of training masks on the market, but not all of them are suitable for use in MMA. One popular device, the Elevation Training Mask 2.0, is becoming a firm favourite with mixed martial arts fighters.
One of its main draws is the fact that it boasts different settings that allow you to control your oxygen levels and gradually work towards more challenging conditions. This means that if you’re just starting out in MMA and haven’t yet reached your peak physical fitness, you can start with a level of elevation that won’t put quite as much of a strain on your system.
Lightweight yet surprisingly durable, the Mask 2.0 is also perfect for training that requires good peripheral vision. You’ll still be able to navigate box jumps, pull ups and push ups with ease (although, as Muay Thai guy pointed out online, you may look a little like a serial killer in the process!).
Check your training plans with your GP
If you’re considering trying out an elevation training mask for yourself, be sure to consult your doctor first. Elevation masks are not suitable for everyone – especially those with underlying medical conditions – so always get an expert opinion before using them to ramp up your training regime.